ICRC cuts activities in Afghanistan

Afghan men denounce the attack and ask that the ICRC office be re-opened Keystone

After the attack on its Jalalabad office in May, the Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has reduced the scope of its activities in Afghanistan.

This content was published on July 23, 2013 - 20:08 and agencies

“The deadly attack that took place on the ICRC’s office in Jalalabad in May reflects a deteriorating situation,” said Jacques de Maio, the ICRC’s head of operations for South Asia, in Geneva on Tuesday.

“We now have an environment in which armed men could breach one of the most ancient rules of war, according to which those helping non-combatants must be spared and protected, and by doing so deliberately deprive millions of Afghans of much-needed help. The ICRC has a unique role to play for millions of Afghans, and we cannot abandon them,” de Maio said.

There will be reductions in emergency assistance in the areas of food, water and sanitation – reductions that the ICRC plans to compensate for through partnerships with local groups like the Afghan Red Crescent.

“We have to adapt our working model and procedures to reduce the overall exposure to risk,” de Maio said. “Regrettably, this will have an adverse effect on the quality and the quantity of some of our services.”

The ICRC will continue its activities in areas such as prison visits, hospital support and physical rehabilitation services for amputees and other war victims.

On May 29, armed men attacked and badly damaged the ICRC office in Jalalabad. An Afghan security guard was killed and an ICRC staff member was injured, prompting the closure of the office and a reduction of staff in Afghanistan. It was the first time that the ICRC was attacked there.

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